Beth Vrabel lives in West Manchester Township with her daughter, Emma, 6, and son, Benny, 3.

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Smart Mama: Everyone has a mission

Smart Mama

Everyone has a mission in life.

For me, I think it’s motherhood. I think I was put here on Earth to make sure 7-year-old Emma does her homework and 4-year-old Benny figures out how to count past 3. And also the unconditional loving, laundering and nurturing parts.

That’s my mission.

Some people discover their missions over time, or their missions change.

Emma’s pretty sure her mission in life is to push against the system at all times. So if I dare, say, challenge her to additional homework, she will vigorously debate the merits of such a plan, even if such debate always ends with her doing it anyway. (See my mission above).

Benny’s current mission is to write the letters he knows well (B, E, P, X, A and O) on every scrap of paper possible. He also works the words “poop,” “bottom” and “brain” into each conversation. (As in breakfast conversation of, “When I lived in your belly, could I see your brain? And where did I poop?” Followed-up with, “Did I come out your bottom?”)

Here’s hoping that missions-change-in-life thing is true. But then again, having a Supreme Court justice and the world’s first proctologist/neurologist with legible handwriting in the family would be sweet.

My name is Jasper. My mission: Destroy leaves.

Our dog, Jasper, however, is showing no signs of changing his mission despite his graduation from puppyhood.
He is charged with, as he sees it, capturing and destroying all fallen leaves.

On the walk to the bus stop, he nearly choked himself leaping for leaves that blustered by until we got him a harness-style leash. In our backyard, he pounces, shreds and then recaptures the shredded bits. If the wind isn’t cooperating, he tosses them into the air himself.

And when I call him to come in, he makes a mad dash for the closest leaf, scurries inside and lays atop it until I look away. Then he quickly shreds and leaves the scene. (I love the look he gives me then, his head cocked to the side and mouth hanging open like, “What? I’m nowhere near that horrible mess.”)

So when I snap, “Jasper! What did you do?” Debater Emma gets called into mission. “It’s not his fault!” she argues. “He doesn’t have enough toys!”

This couldn’t be further from the truth, since his toys litter every room of the house. Unlike the children, he simply is not fooled by the “put them away before I throw them away” speech.

Benny writes him a prescription. “BE XAP O.”

“It means: Don’t shred leaves,” he translates.

I don’t get what Jasper finds so threatening about leaves. Why must they be destroyed? After 50 or so, wouldn’t they lose their appeal?

But everyone has a mission. And now my mission has grown to include loving that silly pup.

Beth Vrabel lives in West Manchester Township with her daughter, Emma, 7, and son, Benny, 4. To subscribe to Smart magazine, visit

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